A pastor’s son who once worked for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio hopes to breed the country’s second start-up unicorn.
Josh Supan, 27, is the founder and chief executive of Pasig City-based Xpanse Technologies Inc., an e-commerce enabling technology company that now has thousands of clients and posts P35 million in monthly revenues just a year after it was launched.
Xpanse is different from large online marketplaces such as Amazon, Lazada and Shopee. It helps businesses sell their products through their own webstores and ship orders automatically. Among its clients are Lacoste, Gap, Banana Republic and the different fashion brands under SSI Group of Companies.
“Right now, I have the entire SSI line. I am supposed to launch 110 of their brands by 2020...We have 200 macros and 3,000 micros,” Supan says, referring to clients that include large and micro-enterprises.
Clients recorded growth in orders of as much as 300 percent in the first three months after their webstores were developed, says Supan.
He says Xpanse combines web development and shipping in the e-commerce industry, something that nobody has done yet in the Philippines. It builds websites for clients and those websites are connected to an automated shipping platform.
“With Xpanse, we give you a logistics arm that is automated. That’s unheard of before. It is either you have a brand.com and you do the manual calling of couriers and all those things. Now, it is different. We give you better rates, better service, better revenues,” Supan says in a roundtable discussion in Ortigas.
Xpanse tapped PayMaya for its payment gateway.
With the dramatic growth Xpanse is experiencing amid the explosion of electronic commerce in the country, it is poised to become a unicorn—a billion-dollar privately-held startup with the help of venture capitalists.
Supan says with the ongoing fund seeding rounds, Xpanse is projected to value more than $1 billion. The Philippines has one unicorn so far—Revolution Precrafted, a developer of prefabricated designer homes established by Robbie Antonio.
Supan is optimistic about Xpanse being a unicorn as he sets his eyes on Asian expansion. He has a good business model and a powerful platform called noah, a cloud-based system that handles orders to expedite the shipping process. The platform processes the order and sends it through partner couriers to any location in the country.
“What we are doing is we are aggregating the orders of all those brands and we are sending it through couriers locally. Right now, we are connected to five major couriers—LBC, 2Go, Ninja Van, Black Arrow and QuadX. We are aggregating them. We are changing the game,” says Supan.
“Because of the whole aggregation system that noah does, we have lowered our RTS [return to sender] to around 4 percent, the standard being 15 to 20 percent. It is really good for the brands,” he says.
“The Philippines is perfect because it has more than 7,000 islands. If you can achieve it in the Philippines, you can achieve it in Asia,” says Supan.
The platform collects a 2-percent fee from every order. “We are profitable now. If we want to expand to Vietnam, we can do it by ourselves. Our brands are doing 500 to 1,000 orders a day.
The website development pays for the salaries of my employees and office space, but the 2 percent is clean. That’s where we are really happy. If there is a problem, we have a bot automatically fixing that,” says Supan.
He describes Xpanse as an e-commerce enabler. “In e-commerce, there are four pillars—webdev, digital marketing, warehousing and last-mile logistics. I cover the two—webdev and last mile.” he says. “We are gonna have also digital marketing soon.”
His goal is to achieve annual revenues of $20 million by 2020 and expand his team from 30 at present to about 100 by the end of 2019.
Supan is also the co-founder and chief operating officer of International Leaders Inc., a business development consultancy firm for international businesses expanding in the Philippines which has Korean and Japanese clients.
“I want to reach as many countries as possible,” says Supan, who was named after Josiah, a Judah king. Supan’s father is a pastor at Victory Christian Fellowship, a born-again Christian group.
“One of my passions really is that a lot of tech graduates in the Philippines don’t get jobs after college because they have only BPOs and call centers waiting for them. What I want is to build hacker houses in the Philippines, so I can take all the dev work here. I want to expand to other countries. All the webdev work, all the digital marketing work will be outsourced from the Philippines. It is about bringing jobs back here,” he says.
Supan was a debate champion at Ateneo de Davao University and was a basketball varsity player at Davao Christian High School. After graduating from Ateneo de Davao with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, he served as an operation and financial consultant at the Davao City Mayor’s Office for four months in 2012. He then became a leasing manager at SM Davao for four years.
He remains single as he focuses on running Xpanse. Being a pastor’s son instilled in him the discipline of being frugal. “We think like a western company, but we act like a Chinese company. We save, save and save because we have an expansion to plan. I am really focused. We are expanding a lot,” he says.
He has a strong belief in having a good relationship with the clients. “A good starting point is to be a good company. You are set with your character, with your goals and with your non-negotiables.
I always believe that it always pays forward. When you are good, good will come back to you also,” he says.
“Everybody is smart, fast, aggressive and hardworking, but not everybody is good. And that will be the differentiator all the time...I feel strongly about taking care of my clients. It is 2019. Providing a service is one thing, but it has to be service-plus. You have to be relational in a way. If you provide a service, you have to have a connection with your client,” says Supan.
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